Security

Massive ransomware attack takes out 27,000 MongoDB servers

A slew of MongoDB databases were recently wiped, with attackers demanding Bitcoin payment in exchange for the data, as tracked by Norwegian developer Niall Merrigan and ethical hacker Victor Gevers.

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Image: iStockphoto/merznatalia

A recent string of ransomware attacks on MongoDB databases left roughly 27,000 servers compromised, with the attackers demanding up to 1 Bitcoin in exchange for the stolen data. The attacks were followed by Norwegian developer Niall Merrigan and ethical hacker Victor Gevers, who posted updates on Twitter.

The number of affected servers started out small, with Merrigan noting there were only 13 victims of one attacker on January 6. However, the number soon skyrocketed into the tens of thousands. As reported by ZDNet's Liam Tung, the affected databases were wiped and replaced with empty databases with cheeky names such as "PWNED" or "PLEASE_READ."

In a ransomware attack, data is typically encrypted until the victim pays a ransom in exchange for the data to be decrypted. However, when data is wiped, as was the case with these attacks, it is difficult to determine if paying the ransom will result in the data being returned.

SEE: Ransomware: The smart person's guide

Unfortunately, it seems as though these victims may not be able to get their data back. As Gevers noted in a tweet, only one of the eight attackers actually saved the data from the original database, but it hasn't been determined yet which one that is.

Additionally, Merrigan wrote that much evidence shows that the data wasn't properly exfiltrated, and paying a ransom won't get it back. He recommends potential victims check their logs and the MongoDB journal to see what happened to their data.

The issue with the affected databases was that they were utilizing default configurations, which allowed for unauthorized access. As a response, MongoDB's director of product security Andreas Nilsson penned a blog post detailing actions that users can take to diagnose and respond to an attack.

For more information, Merrigan and Gevers are maintaining a spreadsheet detailing the attacks. There are multiple attackers targeting these databases, with the attacker known as kraken claiming nearly 16,000 victims.

MongoDB is known for its work with NoSQL databases. The company has been detailing its revenue growth, and could be on track for an IPO, but it's not clear if the attacks will impact that growth.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. A recent set of ransomware attacks compromised nearly 27,000 MongoDB servers, leaving many databases wiped.
  2. Norwegian developer Niall Merrigan and ethical hacker Victor Gevers tracked the attacks, and tweeted that the attackers likely never saved the data to begin with.
  3. MongoDB's director of product security Andreas Nilsson wrote a blog post on how users could respond to an attack and protect their data.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is News Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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